Partnering together for student success

Annual Student Conference Logo FinalEach year, the Office of Undergraduate Retention and the Division of Student Affairs at UNC-Chapel Hill partner with colleagues from across campus to provide a day-long conference for faculty and staff on current issues in undergraduate student success.

This year’s conference, held at the Carolina Club on Feb. 22 with approximately 200 faculty and staff present, was about “growth mindset.” Growth mindset is a theoretical framework developed by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck that has been applied to student success initiatives across the education pipeline. Growth mindset is the belief that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. While individuals with a fixed mindset believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are unchangeable fixed traits, people with a growth mindset believe that intelligence is malleable and that individuals have significant capacity to change. Research suggests that developing a growth mindset may result in positive educational outcomes.

In addition to exploring the definition of growth mindset, the day-long conference explored how growth mindset can be applied to undergraduate student success, and how faculty and staff at Carolina can apply growth mindset to their current work with undergraduates.

The keynote address was given by Martha Casazza of TRPP Associates, Inc., and the plenary address was given by UNC School of Education Associate Professor Jeffrey Greene. Breakout sessions were led by staff and faculty from the across the University. Thrive@Carolina — the Provost’s retention working group — and the Summer School were also co-sponsors of the 2016 conference.

The conference provided an opportunity for departments to collaborate on potential strategies for promoting growth mindset in college. To continue the conversation, the Summer School offered $5,000 in grant funds to support proposals from conference attendees that would promote growth mindset among undergraduate students during summer 2016. Recipients of the funds will be announced in April. Recipients will share information about their projects during the fall 2016 Brown Bag Lunch Series.

For more details about the proceedings of the 2016 Student Success Conference on Growth Mindset, including materials from the day (forthcoming), please visit

By Candice Powell